White-Tailed Deer Spatial Distribution in Relation to ‘4-Poster’ Tick Control Devices in Suburbia

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Roden-Reynolds, P.; Kent, C.M.; Li, A.Y.; Mullinax, J.M. White-Tailed Deer Spatial Distribution in Relation to ‘4-Poster’ Tick Control Devices in Suburbia. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 4889.


Deer are keystone hosts for adult ticks and have enabled the spread of tick distributions. The ‘4-Poster’ deer bait station was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to control ticks feeding on free-ranging deer. Although effective in certain scenarios, ‘4-Poster’ deer treatment stations require the use of bait to attract deer to one location, which may cause increased deer disease transmission rates and habitat damage. To better understand and manage the impact of baited ‘4-Poster’ stations on deer movements, we captured and GPS-monitored 35 deer as part of an integrated pest management project. Fifteen ‘4-Poster’ stations were deployed among three suburban county parks to control ticks. To quantify the effects of ‘4-Poster’ stations, we calculated deer movement metrics before and after feeders were filled with whole kernel corn, and we gathered information on visitation rates to feeders. Overall, 83.3% of collared deer visited a feeder and revisited approximately every 5 days. After feeders were refilled, collared deer were ~5% closer to feeders and conspecifics than before filling. Males used a higher percentage of available feeders and visited them more throughout the deployment periods. Although these nuanced alterations in behavior may not be strong enough to increase local deer abundance, in light of infectious diseases affecting deer populations and effective ‘4-Poster’ densities, the core range shifts and clustering after refilling bait may be a cause for concern. As such, trade-offs between conflicting management goals should be carefully considered when deploying ‘4-Poster’ stations.